Catchers and Concussions

Today’s Penning Bull focuses on catchers and concussions. Here’s an excerpt, on the unfortunate play that left Jonathan Lucroy concussed just prior to the All-Star break:

Marisnick has taken some exceptionally harsh criticism for the play, and that’s understandable. As he admitted, he made a mistake and it caused a severe injury to another player. Where some see intentional malice or negligence, fhough, I saw a player redirect himself two separate times, seemingly seeking the best path to an open corner of home plate. Some (including Yadier Molina, bless him) saw those moves as aiming for Lucroy, but remember: the play was coming from the line in right. I firmly accept, and believed even before Marisnick explained it this way, that he was unable to read Lucroy’s body language as he set up to take the throw, and that he thought he could sneak in the front door if Lucroy let the ball travel and tried to tag him toward the back edge of the plate. For a runner, that throw is the hardest to read. If it’s coming from left field, every movement the catcher makes will tell you something useful about where the ball is. If it’s coming from center, you know any throw that’s on line will basically put the catcher at the front third-base corner of home. Catchers waiting for throws from right, however, have to set up sideways, like a shortstop waiting for a throw on a stolen-base attempt. That makes their movements, large and small, hard to read. I don’t think Marisnick meant to hurt anyone, or even collide to drive the ball out of Lucroy’s mitt; I think he’s a really fast guy who missed a read and couldn’t adjust quickly enough. I still think, though, that he probably ought to have been ejected, in addition to being called out (as he was) for the collision. That’s a smallish but meaningful message, and penalty, akin to having players tossed from NBA games for flagrant fouls, and I think it’s probably time to make that the rule.

To read the rest of the piece (including thoughts on Francisco Cervelli and on Jorge Alfaro), or to receive future editions, you can subscribe using the button on this page.

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